School Board Orders Forensic Audit of Money Paid to Lupas

The Wilkes-Barre Area School Board wants to find out if its former solicitor overcharged the district for legal services.

That solicitor, attorney Anthony Lupas, has been in the news all week.

Investors are suing him, claiming he bilked them out of possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars.

After a lawsuit was filed against Lupas relating to an alleged Ponzi scheme, the school board voted to take a closer look at the money it paid to Lupas to determine if the district may have been over billed.

The Wilkes-Barre Area superintendent said in 2011 the district paid Lupas $328,000.

“The expenses, you’re going to sit there and tell me you didn’t know about the skyrocketting affect of those expenses to him?” asked Sam Troy of Wilkes-Barre.

Emotions were high at the Wilkes-Barre Area school board meeting.

More than a dozen taxpayers showed up, many angrily voicing their opinions about the recent allegations against Lupas, as well as the hundreds of thousands of dollars the district paid him for legal services.

“2009 was $99,000. 2010 was $171,000. 2011 was $328,000. This to me is so appalling it takes my breath away,” said Troy.

“I would like to know who is in charge of writing out these checks and overseeing the vast difference in the amounts being paid over the last several years,” said Carol Kopec of Wilkes-Barre.

At the school board meeting members voted to do a forensic audit, an audit that can be used in court, of the money it paid to Lupas.

“Over the last several years, it has more than tripled. It works out to $144 per hour, based on an 80 hour week. You didn’t question that,” said Tracey Hughes of Wilkes-Barre.

District Superintendent Jeffrey Namey said the solicitors were asked by the board to do more work, but he said not enough to justify the extra expenses.

The audit will help determine if the board may have been over billed by Lupas.

“I think this is something that needs to be done and hopefully when we get through this issue, our system is going to be better when it comes to checks and balances and accountability,” said Namey.